LONDON — Jo Swinson unveiled the Liberal Democrat manifesto on Wednesday ahead of the U.K.s December general election. While the party is highly unlikely to win power, it could play a crucial role as kingmaker if one of the two larger parties fails to secure an outright majority.
Here is the list of policies the Lib Dems will be bartering with if they hold the balance of power after December 12.
The Lib Dems have pledged to stop Brexit on Day One if Swinson wins the keys to Downing Street. She told ITV on Tuesday she would write a letter — or maybe even send an email — to Brussels to halt the process of exiting the bloc. If the Lib Dems fail to win the election, the party will still campaign for a fresh Brexit referendum.
“In other circumstances, we will continue to fight for a peoples vote with the option to stay in the EU, and in that vote we would passionately campaign to keep the U.K. in the EU,” the manifesto explains.
The party says remaining in the bloc will deliver a £50 billion “Remain bonus” over five years, which can be used for public services and reducing inequality. The assumption is that the economy will end up 0.4 percent higher on average each year compared with if the Brexit deal negotiated by Boris Johnson is delivered.
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According to the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank, the £50 billion figure is “within the range of plausible estimates for the extent of that additional revenue.”
The party pledged to invest £130 billion in infrastructure, upgrading the transport and energy systems and building schools, hospitals and homes.
By 2024-25 — the final year of the next parliament — the Lib Dems expect to rake in almost £64 billion annually, mainly through the “Remain bonus” but also through a 1p increase in income tax (£7.7 billion), a hike in corporation tax to 20 percent (£10 billion), abolishing the capital gains tax free allowance (£5.6 billion) and reforming air passenger duty (£4.8 billion.) The party will also legalize and tax cannabis (£1.5 billion) and boost anti-tax avoidance measures (£5.7 billion).
On current spending, the party intends to keep debt at or near 1 percent of GDP by 2024-25 and ensure debt to GDP continues to fall, while on capital spending it will allow independent monitors to ensure capital investment is well spent.
The Lib Dems want to reform air-passenger duty on international flights to make frequent travelers and businesses pay more tax. The first flight each year would be free, with the second costing £20 in tax, the third £60, the fourth £135 and so on. The party said people who fly a handful of times a year would end up paying less tax. The Lib Dems will consult on the proposal in the first year of the next parliament and aim to bring in the changes during the second year.
The party is also promising more investment in public transport to build rail projects like HS2 and Crossrail 2 and to reduce the impact on the environment. Measures such as converting the rail network to electric or hydrogen ultra-low-emission technology by 2035 are included in the manifesto. Rail fares would be frozen for the entire parliament.
Organizations such as public-sector companies and local authorities would be able to bid for rail-franchising contracts, while existing firms could be sacked for failing to provide adequate services.
The party wants to give powers to local authorities to improve transport in their areas, and will commit £4.5 billion over five years to restore local bus routes. It will use taxation, subsidy and regulation to accelerate the transition to ultra-low-emission cars.
The Lib Dems want to set up a citizens assembly to discuss whether the government should be allowed to use algorithms in political decision-making. They also want to focus on ethics in the tech industry — establishing a code of ethics that firms would be expected to abide by, including ensuring that the use of personal data and artificial intelligence is unbiased, transparent and accurate, and respects privacy.
The party wants to introduce a searchable online database for all political adverts on the web, increase the digital services tax from 2 percent to 6 percent, and develop a plan for the public to share the profits tech firms make by using their data. It will allow companies to claim research and development tax credits against the cost of purchasing datasets and cloud computing.
It would oversee the rollout of hyper-fast, fiber-optic broadband across the country, with rural areas prioritized, and ensure all new homes built from 2022 are connected and ready for smart technologies.
The Lib Dems want to crack down on tax avoidance by multinationals by reforming “place of establishment rules” and ensuring tax bills are more closely related to the sales companies make in Britain.
The party also wants to work with banks to fund a local banking sector for small- and medium-sized businesses, and expand the British Business Bank. It has also pledged £5 billion of initial capital for a new Green Investment Bank.
The headline health policy in the manifesto is to add 1p for every pound to income tax, which would be ring-fenced for spending on the NHS and social care measures. The party wants to boost mental health provision, including reducing waiting times and increasing talking therapies.
The party wants to end the automatic private tendering of health services. It wants to introduce a well-being budget, which will help base decisions on whether they improve well-being, alongside the usual economic indicators. There would be a well-being minister, who would update parliament on how government policy affects well-being.
The party will also look into developing a dedicatRead More – Source